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September edition of Facing Racism explores The Doctrine of Discovery

Observance of Native American Day prompts consideration of U.S. history

by Gregg Brekke | Presbyterian News Service

Members of the Native American Consulting Committee and other Presbyterians were in Louisville to develop a report on the repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery, a mandate from the 222nd General Assembly (2016). (Photo by Gail Strange)

LOUISVILLE – Calling on congregations to offer an educational event exploring The Doctrine of Discovery, the September edition of Facing Racism from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) asks participants to consider the history of exploitation of Indigenous Peoples in the United States.

As the Church prepares to celebrate Native American Day on September 22, we offer resources related to The Doctrine of Discovery. For more than five centuries, the doctrine and the laws based upon it have legalized the theft of land, labor and resources from Indigenous Peoples, and systematically denied their human rights. The 222nd General Assembly (2016) of the PC(USA) called the church to confess its complicity and repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery.

The action also called for a review of the history of the doctrine and the writing of a report on the doctrine to be made to the 223rd General Assembly (2018).

An elder burns copies of the Doctrine of Discovery at a Nov. 3 ceremony where faith leaders denounced the doctrine and apologized for its consequences. (Photo by Gregg Brekke)

As a call to action, this edition of Facing Racism asks congregations to plan an educational event using resources related to the Doctrine of Discovery, including worship suggestions, videos or other resources available here.

Acting on the directive of the 222nd General Assembly (2016) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the communication agencies of the denomination’s six agencies are collaborating on the Facing Racism program to produce and promote antiracism resources for the church.

General Assembly referral 11-22/#06 gives instruction to “Direct the national church agencies to jointly formulate a communications plan to share antiracism resources, and create an electronic campaign to send information on antiracism resources and trainings to mid councils, congregations, and Presbyterian-affiliated institutions.”

“Because of our biblical understanding of who God is and what God intends for humanity, the PC(USA) must stand against, speak against, and work against racism. Antiracist effort is not optional for Christians. It is an essential aspect of Christian discipleship, without which we fail to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.” (p. 2, Facing Racism: A Vision of the Intercultural Community, Churchwide Antiracism Policy).

The electronic campaign sharing Facing Racism resources began March 21, 2017, and concludes in the spring prior to the 223rd General Assembly meeting in June 2018. The bimonthly emails highlight various antiracism resources available for use in congregations and mid councils, and include a call to action along with a schedule of upcoming events.

The website serves as a starting point for the dissemination of resources and offers a link to subscribe to receive regular updates on newly available materials.

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